Past Lying

Atlantic Monthly. (Karen Pirie, Bk. 7). Nov. 2023. 452p. ISBN 9780802161499. $27. THRILLER
Is there any greater pleasure than reading a writer at the top of her game? Following Still Life, McDermid returns with a new case for DCI Karen Pirie of Edinburgh’s Historic Cases Unit (HCU). It’s April 2020 and Karen and her team, together with the rest of the city, are in COVID lockdown and working from home when Jason “the Mint” Murray receives a call from Meera Reddy, his favorite archivist at the National Library of Scotland. Before the pandemic, she was processing the papers of the recently deceased crime writer Jake Stein and had been dismayed by one of his stories outlining a perfect murder. Stein’s fictionalized victim suffers from a rare form of epilepsy and bears a striking resemblance to a real young woman who disappeared in Edinburgh over a year ago. The HCU team reads the story and realizes that Meera may have stumbled upon something significant. They are soon working on the disappearance, despite juggling strict lockdown rules and the obstructionist intervention of their boss, ACC Markie.
VERDICT With an intricate plot, authentic dialogue, rich details, and masterly McDermid twists and turns, this book will delight Pirie fans, existing and new.
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